Animal-Palooza

I love trail running….always  an adventure. I set out today to get in 25 miles, as a warm-up for my second 50k next weekend. Adrienne was planning to join me for the first ten or so through pirate’s cove.

We set out towards the first hill to Pirate’s Cove, and come across a group of people – mainly kids, looking at something in a meadow.  We slow down and Adrienne asks if it’s a coyote…the group told us there was a baby.  As they’re oohing and ahhing over its cuteness, my first question was – where’s mom….but then I figured, it was a coyote (not terribly dangerous) and I was pretty sure I could outrun at least one person in the mass of people…haha. It was pretty cute and seemed pretty oblivious to the fact that anyone was watching it.

Coming through Pirate’s cove was more gnarly than I remember, but then again, I haven’t been there since the end of August. It was pretty foggy, but still a great view.  We descended down the massive hill into Muir Beach, and at the bottom, we had a couple of hikers with dogs tell us they ran into a women in front of us that had seen a large mountain lion, with pointy black ears.  Awesome…exactly what I want to find on the trail. But, since it sounded like it was headed in the direction we came from, we figured we’d head up the route we planned.

We start up Middle Green Gulch, and at some point come across somewhat fresh mountain lion poo…we hope it’s from when it was heading away from us, and decide if we keep talking, we’ll scare it away if there is anything there. We go up a little further, and find pee….at that point, I’m walking up the trail with my arms above my head, yelling “roar”, “roar”.  Of course we’re on a brush-filled, pretty much single track, trail.  I’m just waiting for something to jump out and eat me. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to be at the top of a hill.

As we made our way back down to Tennessee Valley, we ran into a couple with their dogs, we warned them about the mountain lion, and they told us about one they had seen too. They did tell us that the thing with pointy black ears was a bob cat, because they have pointy black ears. That’s relieving….

As we ran down the last bit of trail, we heard some god-awful animal noises…we of course asked what it was, and someone passing by told us it was a mountain lion eating someone. Really?? Who says that??

We get back, Adrienne heads off on her way, and I head out towards fox trail.  I end up coming back to fill my water, but got a glimpse of the steepness I will encounter next week. Then I head over towards the visitor’s center….having decided to stay in populated areas for the rest of the day.  At that point, I was feeling pretty tired….being sick all week was starting to set in.  I got to the top of marincello and made my way down bobcat.  I stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the air-show and get some photos of the blue angels as they popped up above the hills.  Half way down bobcat, my lungs started to burn….kind of like a cramp, but more of a burn. Stupid congestion…..but I had to get to 20, or I really wouldn’t be able to do the race next weekend.

I crawled up miwok, noticing all of the people perched on the peaks watching the air show.  At this point, I was pretty much walking, but was glad for the downhill brought by Old Springs.  I was able to pick up the pace, but the lungs were still burning.  At some point, I looked up and saw something up on the ridge above me….at first I thought maybe a person, but then I realized it was an animal. My first thought was coyote, but it was pacing and I found out later that coyotes don’t pace….only mountain lions do.  My first thought was to bomb down the hill as fast as possible, but then I realized I was sick, and I’d probably fall…and if whatever it was did see me running, it might decide to chase me.  So I backed away….and kept turning around. Watching it pace…..a mile from Tennessee Valley….a mile never seemed so far away.

At one point there were four people coming up the trail towards me….I warned them about what I thought was the coyote, and one of the guys asks, “only one”?  Ummm….yeah….I don’t know, I didn’t stop and ask his party size.

I got down and got the rest of my 20 miles in….I’m still concerned about next week’s race, but, I did get to the 20.  Hopefully I’ll be feeling better and have more energy in another week. I need that to go well.

Once I began the drive home, I thought the adventure was over.  But, not yet…..I drive over the bridge and end up pretty much in gridlock….but then my lane and the one to the left were moving….the one on the right – pretty much at a standstill. As I near the end of the bridge, I see the issue….more deer on the bridge?  Nope.  A super slow car?  Thought so, but no.  Wait for it…..there’s someone riding a bike….across the bridge…..in the traffic lane. Seriously??  I mean, I’ve done some stupid stuff on my bike and ended up places I shouldn’t. But how do you mess that up?  How do you end up on 101?

I continue making my way into the city, now stuck in some air show traffic, when I notice there’s still a United 737 flying through the bay, putting on a show as best as it can. Then I look over  to the other side of the road and realize there are cars pulled off the road, on the approach to the bridge, so the people could get out and watch the united plane….I’m imagining how the conversation in that car went….’honey, honey, pull over on 101 so we can get out and watch the 737, because, well, we can’t see that at the airport’.

Then, when I’m finally on divisidero, heading home….and it’s bumper to bumper traffic all the way up.  Of course, the car doesn’t like that and is all sorts of beeping at me. Transmission hot….speed up. Awesome….ok car, I know you don’t like this….I don’t like this, but unless you’re going to turbo charge through the SUV in front of us, you’re just going to have to deal.

And….finally home.  Showered, fed, and ready to enjoy some wine. Over and out until next time…..

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